Matthew Vincent

Is McDonald’s now a safer bet than HMG?

‘What do you say to a former Treasury economist? Big Mac and fries, please!’ This updated version of the old 1980s joke (the original butts were sociology graduates, and any scouser in uniform) has yet to make it into wider circulation, but it can only be a matter of time. If faced with such a

The rise and fall of Mr Two-and-Twenty

‘Mr Ten Per Cent’ has long been a term of contempt. Indeed, finagling Hollywood agents’ decimation of their clients’ earnings resulted in one of the few successful exports of a Spoonerism to California — to explain the difference between a talent agent and a rooster (the latter ‘clucks defiance’). So why has it taken a

How to stay sane when computers go crazy

‘I’m on the beach with my BlackBerry,’ a senior banker told the Financial Times back in early August. ‘Normally, banks run on half or two thirds of normal staff in August, which can make it difficult, so every banker has to remain vigilant, even if you’re on the beach like me.’ But, at precisely the

Smoking ban causes brewers’ droop

An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman walk into a pub. The Englishman turns to the others and says, ‘What’s that awful smell?’ ‘Och,’ says the Scotsman, ‘it takes a wee while to get used to.’ ‘Ah, so it does,’ says the Irishman, ‘’tis what pubs really smell like when you get rid of the

Sick of rotten service? See it as a Buy signal

‘The customer is always right,’ said the 19th-century American retail pioneer Marshall Field — and shoppers at his Chicago store became so enamoured of their omnipotence, and of his assistants’ assistance, that they spent enough to make him the wealthiest businessman in the city. His retail innovations — unconditional refunds and consistent pricing — soon

How cyber-vetting catches job liars

‘Interests: travel, cinema, country walks, volleyball, volunteering at the pet-rescue centre…’ Why do CVs make job applicants sound like contestants in the Miss Cleethorpes beauty pageant, or desperate divorcees on dating websites? It’s possibly because job hunters now believe ‘personality’ is what wins over potential employers, and many applicants are prepared to lie about themselves

A duvet day’s as good as a pay rise

Ever wanted to kill your boss? Well, now you can — and, as long as it doesn’t become a regular occurrence, you won’t even have to pay tax on the cost of the exercise. Welcome to the wacky world of employee benefits and workplace incentives. Here, of course, the corporate regicide is imaginary — the

Think outside the jargon box

‘Dinosaurs … think inside the box. Dolphins … occupy the space outside the box. ‘Dinosaurs … think inside the box. Dolphins … occupy the space outside the box. The dinosaurs’ negative headset creates a lose-lose situation, whereas the dolphins’ can-do headset enables them to score a try!’ ‘Set out to leave the first vapour trail

Switching channels

‘Have you had an accident at work that’s led to a loss of income?’ ‘Would you like to consolidate your debt?’ ‘Do you want to release equity from your property?’ If you’ve ever had the misfortune to find yourself watching ITV1 during the daytime (according to the British Market Research Bureau, not a single Spectator

A compost heap of hot stocks

‘A piece of sh*t’ was the non-technical term used by Merrill Lynch analyst Henry Blodget to describe a dotcom stock called 24/7 Media, back in October 2000. To him, it was just another ‘new paradigm’ company to foist on an overheating market. To some observers today, the flotation on the Alternative Investment Market (Aim) of

Hot stocks and naughty boys

What do the following have in common: metatarsally challenged footballing wonderkid Wayne Rooney, two-time-Ashes-winning spin bowler Phil Edmonds, one-time Greek oil explorer Frank Timis, and ‘Brian Cohen’, the eponymous hero of The Life of Brian? Is it that they are not messiahs, but in fact rather naughty boys; or that they are all regarded favourably

Other people’s debts

‘A financier is a pawnbroker with imagination,’ claimed Arthur Wing Pinero in his 1893 play The Second Mrs Tanqueray. ‘A financier is a pawnbroker with imagination,’ claimed Arthur Wing Pinero in his 1893 play The Second Mrs Tanqueray. His work may be rarely seen in the West End these days, but his words are enjoying